I Didn’t Like My Dad. There, I Said It.

by admin on June 16, 2012

Father’s Day is always such a mixed bag of emotions for me. When I was a toddler, my Mom married her second husband Bruce, who legally adopted me. I didn’t know until I was 11 that he wasn’t my ‘real’ Dad.

I didn’t feel connected to him. I never felt that special father/daughter ‘bond’ that chokes me up when I see it in Paul and Emily now. I never looked into his twinkling eyes, hoping that one day I’d meet someone half as amazing as him. Turns out, when I was 23, I met someone 100 times more than anything he was. Thank God.

Bruce was a dictator, and if you got in his way, watch out. He wasn’t fun, and fun equaled LOUD and irritating to him, so I learned from a very early age to play without a sound. So my favorite place quickly became my coveted bedroom with the four poster bed, alone. My prized possession was a tape recorder that I could turn into my own private recording studio, and even though the ‘record’ button was broken and I had to keep my aching finger on it for hours at a time, it was okay, because it allowed me to create my own little world that I could live in, and sing in (albeit horribly), and create in. And no one could hear me.

The one surefire way to win Bruce’s accolades was to get straight A’s. And even though I was a horrible math student, somehow, I managed that feat most of the time. I remember clutching my report card on those lucky days, heading home with a smile, knowing that he’d be really proud.

At bedtime, he would lean in for a goodnight kiss, and I always unconsciously turned my head so that he had to kiss me on the cheek and not the other way around. One night, when I was about 8, he screamed at me, wanting to know why I always did that. It’s weird that these are the moments burned in my brain. And that now, with our kids, Paul and I go overboard with the hugs and kisses and cuddles.

When Bruce disowned me just before turning 18, after I had called the cops on him when he threatened me and my Mom, it was kind of a relief. Even paying for college on my own felt liberating, and soon thereafter my parents divorced.

Bruce died a handful of years ago, and I did not attend the funeral. I do think about him now and again, and hope that somewhere, somehow, he’s found his peace.

So although Father’s Day can feel very bittersweet for me, I also celebrate it though my kids’ eyes — and soak in their giddiness and love for a man whom they adore. A man who plays such a positive, encouraging, loving role for them. Who gives them unconditional love. Those lucky little devils.

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